According to a recent study conducted by Verkada, a majority of front-line workers at a variety of different types of businesses are more afraid of violence in the workplace than they were even a year ago.

More than half (58 percent) of frontline workers feel that the threat of physical harm is on the rise, and 40 percent say they are more concerned about personal safety at work than they were a year ago. 

The 2023 Verkada Workplace Safety Survey results are based on a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Americans who work on-location across critical sectors, including healthcare, retail, consumer banking, hospitality and services. Among key findings: 

  • Violent, aggressive and erratic behavior from customers and visitors is the main cause of distress for workers. Healthcare workers are especially concerned: 69 percent report worries about aggressive or erratic behavior among patients or visitors, and 59 percent regularly worry about being assaulted at work. The two biggest sources of concern for retail workers are erratic or aggressive behavior from customers (58 percent) and theft (58 percent), and nearly half (49 percent) of retail workers say theft and vandalism are on the rise. 
  • There is a significant divide between employers’ perceptions of job safety and the experiences and concerns of their workers. 69 percent of leaders or managers report feeling very safe at work and 67 percent think their direct reports feel equally safe. Yet only about a third of workers (37 percent) feel safe at their workplace. 
  • Those differences are also stark across generational lines: Gen Z is consistently two times more concerned about safety than their Boomer counterparts. And these younger workers will take action to prioritize their safety if employers won’t. More than 30 percent of Gen Z workers say they have turned down job opportunities or switched jobs because they’ve felt vulnerable or at an increased level of risk. 
  • Ensuring workers are physically secure is an urgent business need. More than half of frontline workers who feel that their jobs do not prioritize employees’ physical safety have said they plan to leave in the next year if their employer does not act to improve safety. Two in five frontline workers would quit their job due to safety concerns if they could afford to. 

They are right to be concerned. A January report by the U.S. Service found that fully half of the mass attacks from 2016-2020 were sparked by personal, domestic or workplace disputes, according to a Reuters article. 

How can security integrators help? The implication from the study that leaders and decision makers feel safer than their workers would indicate there is some work to do in educating customers about both the risks and solutions available to keep their workers both safe and productive.

There are myriad technologies and solutions to help increase security, from video cameras, to “smart lobbies,” visitor management, and access control.

When it comes to securing a workplace it will vary depending on the type of facility being secured. A hospital, for example, is a much different security problem than, say a retail store. 

The key, as in any successful business relationship, is to have in-depth conversations with your customers to find out what problems they are trying to solve and to make sure they have as much information as possible on the solutions available to them.